The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an exciting free-agency period and added a promising draft class, but I’m not so sure that means Raymond James Stadium will be packed in the 2012 season.
Most of you know the history. The Bucs have sold out only two home games in the past two seasons and most of you know that home games that aren't sold out aren't broadcast live locally.
You would think the addition of the free agents (Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright), the draft class (highlighted by Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David) and coach Greg Schiano would create some excitement in the Tampa Bay area. I live here and I sense there is some excitement, but I’m not sure that’s going to translate into instant sellouts. At the NFL owners meeting in March, Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said the team had seen some growth in season-ticket sales after the free-agent signings. But Glazer wasn’t ready to predict that Tampa Bay would sell out most of its games. Glazer declined to say where Tampa Bay's season-ticket base stands.
Glazer might have been wise to hold back his optimism. There’s a less-than-encouraging report out about Tampa Bay’s economy. According to the quarterly Consumer Distress Index put out by the credit counseling agency CredAbility, no major metropolitan area is as stressed as Tampa Bay in the combined factors of job market, tight credit, household budget constraints, lower net worth and the job market.
Yes, Tampa Bay has moved ahead of Detroit. The Miami area also didn’t fare well in the report and that comes after there’s been talk about the Dolphins having problems selling season tickets. The Jacksonville Jaguars have struggled to sell tickets for several years. As a state, Florida ranks fifth in terms of financial distress for consumers.
The Jaguars, with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, aren’t exactly an exciting team right now. Miami fans have griped about the team’s offseason, with the Dolphins coming up short in attempts to land Jeff Fisher as their coach and Peyton Manning as their quarterback.
The Bucs might have the most exciting – and potentially the best – team in Florida. But the lagging economy means the Bucs might not see big results at the box office.